Review: The Glenlivet 12, 15, 18, and 21 Years Old, Nadurra 16 Years Old, and XXV (2008)

Review: The Glenlivet 12, 15, 18, and 21 Years Old, Nadurra 16 Years Old, and XXV (2008)

After digging Glenlivet’s 25 year old Scotch, the company was kind enough to send samples of the rest of the “core” lineup — the bottles that are available worldwide, year-round, all the time — for comparison. This Speyside giant produces quite a range of whiskys. Some thoughts follow.

Glenlivet 12 Years Old (2008) – Your standard Glenlivet, 80 proof, the one you can get anywhere on the planet. Very appealing, with a surprising rush of apples, then caramel, then a whiff of smoke. Medium finish, but quite sugary. For sweet tooths like me, this is excellent stuff for the price. Amazing value. B+ / $24 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS] [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]

Glenlivet 15 Years Old French Oak Reserve – Feels hotter than its 80 proof. Extremely woody — the flavor is more akin to chewing on twigs than any kind of toffee- or vanilla-style notes you typically get from wood. Just doesn’t gel for me. C+ / $37 [BUY IT NOW FROM THE WHISKY EXCHANGE]

Glenlivet Nàdurra 16 Years Old – “Nàdurra” means “natural” in Gaelic, and it’s a very pale yellow whisky, shockingly so considering its 16 years of age. Matured in first-fill American oak, it’s wildly different in style than the 12 and 15, with a spicy character and very dry, quick finish. Many flavors at play here, and difficult to pin down. Complex and curious. It grows on you, offering some citrus peel bitterness. 96 proof, big for Glenlivet. B+ / $54

Glenlivet 18 Years Old – Dark gold. Looks like old whisky. 86 proof, so not too hot. Lightly smoky and oaky. Oily on the palate. Less fruit than the 12, but in a similar style. Kind of short on the finish, alas. Was hoping for more, but this one fades away too fast. B / $51  [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS] [BUY IT NOW FROM THE WHISKY EXCHANGE]

Glenlivet Archive 21 Years Old – Darkest of the bunch (difficult to tell, but I think a shade darker than the 25 year, even), a deep brown and 86 proof. Austere and sherry-like, it goes down too easy, even without a drop of water. Very enjoyable and easy to drink. Melds well flavors of light sweetness, wood, and just a touch of smoke. I like it. A- / $135  [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

Glenlivet XXV (2008) – Retasted. A little hotter than I remembered, but overall flavor and tone is similar to the 21. Actually a little difficult to discern between them, but I like the honey notes and playful sweetness. 86 proof. I’d rate it an A- this time, but that may be splitting Scotch-soaked hairs. A- / $350 [BUY IT NOW FROM THE WHISKY EXCHANGE]

Glenlivet Archive 21 Years Old




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. omega2010 on July 18, 2010 at 2:30 am

    The Glenlivet Nadurra is actually 118 proof.

  2. Christopher Null on July 18, 2010 at 7:43 am

    omega2010 – there are different Nadurra bottlings, even with the same age statement. In 2008 it was 96 proof; that may have changed.

  3. Omega2010 on July 24, 2010 at 2:01 am

    Well, my math was off there, after looking at the label of my recently purchased bottle of Nadurra, I see the ABV is 57% or 114 proof.

  4. EDGAR on July 23, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    The reviewer was correct in his 96 Proof account of the particular vintage of The Glenlivet Nadurra 16.
    The U.K. alcohol measuring guide determines that you multiply the Alc/Vol by 1.75 to get the ensuing proof.
    Hence,55% = 96 proof.

  5. Kieron Colton on October 12, 2020 at 6:24 am

    I am absolutely amazed that the Christopher has rated the 21 as a 9 AND the founders reserve as an 8.5!!! Only marginally better than probably the worst glenlivet they have ever produced. Unbelievable, how?! I don’t understand?

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